The Patton Law Firm, LLC The Patton Law Firm, LLC
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Straight up facts about your liquor license

Owning your own bar or restaurant has likely been a dream for a long time. Restaurant work is difficult, but if you love the idea of standing behind a bar while your patrons have a good time, it is worth the effort. Maybe you are looking forward to having regulars who plan their weeks around a night out at your bar, know you by name and tell their friends what a fun place you have.

Part of your restaurant dream is obtaining a liquor license so you can legally serve alcohol. For many reasons, Ohio regulates the sale of alcoholic beverages, and adhering to the laws and the stipulations in your license is the best way to ensure you will not face the bar-destroying possibility of having the liquor board revoke your license.

Putting your license on the rocks

Often, the one thing that stands between you and the liquor board is your staff. If your people are not properly trained to work behind the bar, they may place you at risk of losing your license, for example:

  • Being too young or uncertified to serve alcohol
  • Continuing to serve drinks to patrons who have already had too much
  • Being unable to recognize the signs of intoxication
  • Serving people who are under 21 years old
  • Failing to recognize a fake ID

Serving minors is one of the fastest ways to jeopardize your business. However, if your establishment gains a reputation for bar fights, illegal activity or frequent visits by law enforcement, this may also cause the liquor board to come down hard. Neighbors and neighboring businesses will not hesitate to report your bar if they fear it attracts a dangerous or disorderly clientele.

When and where you serve

Your license dictates the hours during which you may serve alcohol. When a bartender alerts customers to last call, it is because all alcoholic drinks must be consumed before the time limit, typically 2 a.m. To protect your license, you would do well to read its fine print and understand the restrictions and consequences it holds for when you may serve.

Additionally, your establishment likely has boundaries for where patrons may and may not consume alcohol. For example, your customers may not be permitted to carry their drinks to the parking lot if they step out for a cigarette. Drinks in the bathroom or stairways may also count as a violation. Again, your well-trained and alert staff can help you maintain order and protect your business by preventing these violations.

If you do find yourself facing a liquor board challenge, remember that your business is on the line. Facing a hearing or the threat of losing your license is nothing you want to leave to chance. You may find the advice of a legal professional makes the difference in whether you remain open for business.

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